Third Grade Retention

Third Grade Retention

Rep. Steve Huebert, Vice-Chair of the House Education Committee, pre-filed a bill that would require third graders not reading proficiently be held back. Shouldn’t this be left to individual families/schools given the many factors and effects? The cynic in us also sees a link between this policy and the Governor’s stated goal of increasing 4th grade reading scores. How do you increase reading scores in the midst of large education budget cuts? One way would be to hold back your failing third graders. Also note that this is a favorite of ALEC, and Rep. Huebert is on the ALEC education task force.  Around 14 states are currently dealing with or proposing third grade retention bills, despite evidence of negative emotional and financial impacts of having children repeat a grade, and that other earlier interventions can solve the same problem without the negative effects.

Further Reading

This article in the Wichita Eagle discusses some of he issues associated with the 2013 proposed implementation of third grade retention.

What does third grade retention do to students? The Atlantic looks at possible outcomes for students. While the article notes that test scores for fourth graders were increased in Florida after the implementation of third grade retention, scores for eight graders in reading showed little improvement. Blanket retention policies may have other unintended consequences and are unlikely by themselves to fix the problem.

When Ohio implemented a similar policy, the legislature there did little to calculate the real cost of such a policy for the district.